High Wycombe will receive extra support in tackling gang crimes after the government selected it as one of nine places in the country which needed assistance.

A number of high profile incidents in the town, including stabbings, shootings, and drug offences have caused alarm in some neighbourhoods.

Despite Thames Valley Police insisting it is “extremely rare” for young people to become involved in youth and gang violence, Home Office officials have announced that they have decided to launch the initiative in the town.

Communities in High Wycombe will now benefit from tailored support to understand the nature of gang-related crimes in the area.

Minister for preventing abuse and exploitation, Karen Bradley, said: “Gang and youth violence has a devastating impact on young people, their families and local communities.

“That’s why today we are providing more targeted support for High Wycombe, which will allow local police and authorities to identify how best to address local challenges and identify the right measures to tackle gang-related violence and exploitation.

“Our new policy; Ending Gang Violence and Exploitation, sets out the Government’s six key priorities to deal with what drives violence and abuse by gangs and shows the Government’s continued determination to tackle this problem.

“We want to work with High Wycombe and other towns and local areas to make this strategy a success.

“By expanding our successful programme we are sending a clear message to anyone involved in gang and youth violence: we are empowering the community to stop you.”

High Wycombe was one of nine new areas the gang programme has been rolled out in, alongside Basildon, Grimsby, Harrow, Hastings, Medway, Sefton, Southampton and Swindon.

As part of the move, High Wycombe will receive support from experts to better understand the nature of gang-related violence and exploitation, identify opportunities for collaborative working and share effective ways of tackling challenges in the town.

The Ending Gangs and Youth Violence programme has already helped 43 areas with tailored support and advice from a network of over 100 specialists with frontline experience dealing with gang and youth related violence.

Thames Valley Police’s community and diversity officer for Wycombe and chairman of the Gangs Multi-Agency Partnership, Paul Bowen, said: “It’s extremely rare for young people to become involved in youth and gang violence in Wycombe and we’re very proud of the preventative work we’ve been doing.

“We know education and diversionary activity can enable young people to make positive choices for themselves.

“That’s why we are committed to working with and listening to young people so we can help them realise the negative impact of being in a gang and encourage them to make positive choices for themselves.

“Since 2012 the Gangs Multi-Agency Partnership, or G-MAP, comprising policing, local authority, criminal justice and social and charitable partners including Thames Valley Police, Wycombe District Council, Buckinghamshire County Council, Chiltern Way Federation, Barnardo’s Are You Safe, Buckinghamshire Youth Offending Service and the NHS, has been working to identify and assist any young people at risk of being involved with or affected by youth violence.

"Young people are given support using cognitive behaviour therapies, practical skills sessions and guest speakers.

“We welcome the opportunity to share our knowledge and learn from others as part of the Ending Gang and Youth Violence Programme which means greater support for young people in Wycombe.”

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